This post was written by Kim Mattison, RN, of Beloit Area Community Health Center.
Colds, flu, and norovirus can all be contracted at any time of the year. We just tend to associate them with winter-time because they occur at a higher rate during this time period.
Due to the cold temperatures, we all tend to spend more time indoors, our windows aren’t open to allow fresh air in, and we keep our homes warm and toasty for all those germs that love warm, humid spaces to “germinate.”
The BEST practice for decreasing your chances of getting a cold, flu or the norovirus is to wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Also, be sure to cover your mouth when you cough and cover your nose when you sneeze, and, again, wash your hands.
A cold virus can survive on a hard surface (such as a countertop, school desk, table) for seven days. A flu virus can last on a hard surface for 24 hours. So, be sure to disinfect door knobs, sink handles, toilet handles/seats, table tops and countertops. Increasing the laundering of towels, bed sheets, and pajamas also help to decrease your chances of contracting a virus.
A virus cannot be treated with antibiotics. Sometimes it just has to run its course. Some home remedies to alleviate the symptoms of a viral infection include increasing your Vitamin C intake, adding probiotics like yogurt, salt-water gargling, drinking lots of fluids, taking a teaspoon (or two) of honey, and a cool mist humidifier.
Viral symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, headache, body chills or aches. However, if these symptoms persist or worsen, or include an uncontrollable fever, an inability to keep fluids down, lethargic behavior, or uncontrollable vomiting or diarrhea you should contact your primary care physician immediately.
While the flu season is underway, it is not too late to get a flu shot (Influenza vaccine). Call your primary care physician to schedule yours today.